Are Kids in Paris, Texas, "Special?"

Categories: Schutze

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Is it time yet for kids in Paris to join the rest of the world?

Certain amount of talk going around about the superintendent of schools in Paris, Texas, who shot off an angry public letter to parents attacking the validity of statewide student achievement tests. Apparently Paris ISD Superintendent Paul Jones has been getting viral attaboys from test-haters the world over after telling Paris parents that Texas state tests suck.

"These assessments do not reflect the quality of teaching or learning in our classrooms," he said in a public letter on the school district webpage. "Instead, they reflect a punitive, one size fits all test-driven system."

Not to be a pissant or anything, but I had to correct Jones' punctuation in order to get his quote down on the page so that it could be read by English speakers. Or by anybody.

Is that significant? Yeah. To me. If I were a superintendent of schools and I was going public with a big slam on academic achievement testing, I would want to be dead certain nothing I had written could cause me to be marked down a grade on my letter, even if I had to get an English teacher to proof it for me.

In fact, forget it. I'll just go ahead and be a pissant. The resentful mentality expressed in Jones' letter -- he refers sneeringly to "a testing company headquartered in London, England" -- is exactly what his graduates least need to hear. He goes on and on about how Paris kids are " ...much more than a once-a-year pencil and bubble sheet test." Bullshit. He needs to be telling them the opposite.

This guy needs to make sure his students know that if they ever want to step one foot outside of Paris, no one out there will ever see or care anything about what they are or who they are until after they show they can ace that pencil and bubble test. The test score comes first. Then you can show your inner qualities. That's the world as it is, man.

He's giving them a snake oil pitch about how nobody else can tell us what we are or what we can do. That's a lie. Everybody can tell you and will tell you, mainly to get lost if you have lousy test scores.

As soon as those kids step out of Paris, the first proof they will have to make of themselves is going to be that pencil and bubble test he's trying so hard to put down. Does he honestly believe the world is going to turn off its cell phone and settle back in the chair to listen to some long narrative about their hometown?

You don't get in the front door to have the conversation in the first place if you have lousy test scores. The main purpose of the tests is not to find geniuses. It's to weed out the ones to whom nobody wants to waste time talking.

Here is what the parents of Paris need to ask Mr. Jones. They need to ask: "If our kids are so damn special and wonderful, how come you can't teach them how to get good scores on the statewide tests? Isn't it a little suspect that you, the dude most responsible for teaching them, are the one trying to tell us not to pay any attention to the results of tests designed to measure the outcome of your own efforts?"

This guy perfectly expresses the thinking of the whole test-hating, anti-Core Curriculum mentality all over Texas and around the country right now. It's the lowest form of enabling demagoguery, selling people a self-serving set of excuses for failure in order to cover the asses of the status quosters.

We here in Dallas are not in a position to look down our noses at Paris, by the way. In the 2011-2012 state college-readiness rankings for graduates, PISD beat DISD by a full 10 percentage points, 65 percent to 55 percent. PISD was ahead of DISD in every ethnic category, especially among Hispanic graduates. Test question: What does it say about us that our own district does a worse job than Paris at preparing graduates for the job market in Dallas? Answer: nothing good.

And we have lots of the same mentality here about testing. Paris doesn't have a monopoly. But as long as the superintendent in Paris was taking his attaboys and his victory lap anyway for standing up to the testers, I wanted to offer him my own two bits worth.

Those test writers are the best friends your kids ever had, buddy. You are not. Lose the 'tude.


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129 comments
noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas

The body of intellectual and practical knowledge one needs to be considered an "educated person" CAN be defined, tested, and evaluated in terms of understanding and useage. 

For example, three mathematical formulas necessary for living in today's world are, 1)  The area of a square,  2) The radius of a circle, and 3) The square of the hypotenuse.  One doesn't have to test for all three, although it's not a bad idea in a world with dozens of common math formulas. 


Teachers should also be regularly tested on what THEY need to know in order to be good teachers. And, merit pay, and the absence of unions, and more parental engagement will help assure we improve our educational systems.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

It's pretty sleazy for the author to pick on the kids like he did in this article.  They're not responsible for what their parents are doing, they don't run that town, and they can't help how they're being raised.

fsessums
fsessums

Patriot At Heart

Mr. Jones is spot on in his comments of the EOC. It is a "one size fits all" kind of test. The test writers have created a potential bottleneck situation in our school systems. Most students are not "geniuses" but does that make them "the ones to weed out because "nobody wants to waste time talking." What a ridiculous statement Mr. Schutze. I also noticed many errors in your article. I give you a "C-."

lisalewis927
lisalewis927

Im no educator and I probably have several grammatical errors in my post, but I happened to have a sister who is a 4th grade teacher. She is extremely good at her job and has a very good passing percentage rate, but I also know that the kids who have a good home life and are able to get help with homework, ect. are often the kids who do well on the testing. This is not the case for everyone but it is for most. We as parents have a part in pur kids education, you cant just put it all on teachers and administraors.

daddyslbgirl
daddyslbgirl

Are you serious? Telling kids all they are is a pencil and a bubble is way better than telling them they are more than that!?! What the heck? You're a special kind of stupid now aren't you?

b1981
b1981

Both of my kids go to PISD and both of their tests scores are way above the state average in all subjects. But they are more than that and i am glad they go to schools that don't just use them as fodder for the test score machine that the majority of public schools have become.

mbcrowder
mbcrowder

I hate standardized testing as much as the next guy ... but seriously - have you seen these tests?  If the kid is going to class regularly and is paying even a little attention, this test is going to be very easy for them.

jmlefan
jmlefan

Your column was rather "special" as well. You are very pompous, and your adorable indifference shows you truly are a smart ass.

drjeff0001
drjeff0001

I really love a column writer for a weekly free paper who corrects a small town superintendent's grammatical errors and then proceeds to write an entire column in street slang.  Too bad they do not have high stakes testing for "journalists".

Peatandrepeat
Peatandrepeat

Goverment test-writers are the best friends your kids ever had.

Goverment test-writers are the best friends your kids ever had.

Goverment test-writers are the best friends your kids ever had.

Peatandrepeat
Peatandrepeat

Goverment test-writers are the best friends your kids ever had.

Goverment test-writers are the best friends your kids ever had.

Goverment test-writers are the best friends your kids ever had.

judd_bradbury
judd_bradbury

Jim I think you wrote a very solid article. The people who hire students remind us that life is a continual set of tests. The best hires are able to overcome adversity and obstacles and solve real problems. They go even further and make sure we understand that we need to teach students on how to handle failure and learn from the experience. There is an important debate going on about the relative importance of IQ(standardized tests) and Problem Solving(grit). The best research is telling us that grit is a much stronger influence in collegiate and professional achievement when compared to IQ(standardized tests). At some point this will beg the question of why do we perform all of our college admissions based on IQ(standardized tests). Fundamental change takes time. IQ(standardized testing) is still the second most influential factor in achievement. A good analyst would recommend using both variables.

The most disturbing policy in the last year has been the dumbing down of math and science requirements in Texas. In a world that demands match and science skills, I have a hard time seeing what good comes from that policy.



holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

I graduated from Paris High School.

I was not subjected to a state-standardized, federally-influenced cumulative examination laid in on top of the struggle to get through English Lit, algebra II, , calculus, geometry, and science.

However, neither was I allowed to avoid these courses since Lifes lessons were taught at home instead of school.  Kids were better mannered and there was discipline without armed guards.

Nor were there alternatives at that time to a public school education in all the small towns like Paris.

I think you might want to look at this from the perspective as to WHY top-down standardized testing was introduced in the first place.  My personal belief is that it was to stanch the decline in student performance in the metropolitan areas from the sixties, not in small town America.  It's why small towns are bucking the system.

As the family unit dissolved, personal responsibility was increasingly abandoned to the state to not only educate but to motivate, mentor, monitor and raise the kids.

Secondary education is being asked to do too much hence, it does nothing well.

and society is not so great as a result.

I miss the idea of a Paris, Texas.

ziggy
ziggy

why would anyone want to leave Paris Texas ?

Qwerty123
Qwerty123

Every single person on the planet is worth infinitely more than a test score. That definitely includes you, Mr. Schuzte. I pray that you believe that you were made for more than to be thrown into some sort of self-worth sorting system. Or to be judged by a grammatical error. That may be how the world works, but, man, that's pretty depressing. Everyone has something unique to bring to the world. Maybe that's cheesy, but I think it's true. Obviously you are really smart and witty. I say use that to build others up. Life is too short to tear each other apart. You will surely find grammatical errors in this comment, but I am certain that I'm worth more than a sentence fragment or an overuse of commas. I think that's freeing.

TXEducator
TXEducator

Mr. Schuzte, 


I feel that your reply is incredulously supercilious and somewhat pugnacious. "The main purpose of the tests is not to find geniuses. It's to weed out the ones to whom nobody wants to waste time talking." That is absolute poppycock!


Our students are special! They are our students! We love them, each and every one. Who are you to outcast students who may not have a certain ability to take a test. I am an educator, I suffered severe test anxieties as a student in high school. I managed to fail the TAAS test by one question on my first administration. I took it again and passed. Does this make me less of an educator? I believe that it makes me a better one! I understand that moment of defeat, but I also understand that it is not the be all and end all in life! AND certainly no one refused to talk to me. I even received several scholarships to attend college.


I believe you to be an educated man. With that I say to you, as I say to my own children and students, "Any old person can curse, there is no intelligence wasted in that."


I do appreciate your opinion, I just believe it would have been better stated without defaming Mr. Jones.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Tests are tests.  Gonna happen at every stage of a person's life, and for expediency, most of them are standardized.  I have no problem with standardized tests, it is the focus of the measurement I usually take exception with. When you grade schools and teacher performance using the test scores of the students, the schools and teachers will naturally tailor their programs to achieve the highest possible test scores, not necessarily the best possible education.

Common core, I can't help you with.  After puzzling for hours over just what the hell common core math was supposed to teach, I just showed my kids how to solve the problems using real math and helped them fake the idiotic common core graphical aids.  Especially at the elementary level.  Simple numbers and simple operations to manipulate those simple numbers haven't changed for ... forever.  Simple numbers aren't an abstract, there is no reason under the sun to teach them as such, which is what common core math seemed to be trying to do.  The writing programs?  Well, when one teacher told me "We just encourage them to write, not concern ourselves so much with grammar and spelling..", I knew the future was a dead stick.

Dippity_do
Dippity_do

There should be other mechanisms within each district to monitor teacher performance and kid learning. The end result of teaching to the test until April and then having two months of movies, field trips and talent shows with very little education is a sick joke perpetrated by the Marxist and/or money-grubbing school administrations, teachers unions and the so-called Department Of Education.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Teach the test.  The reality is that grade schools -- especially public schools -- don't do any educating anyways.  All that matters is that the test scores are good enough to get them into a college, where they (sorta) will get some actual education.


Nobody is learning anything in grade schools.  All they are doing is being sorted by who is naturally smarter and who is better educated at home.  Admit it and focus on the sorting.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Gosh-a-rooti, I have searched and searched for the grammatical errors some readers claim to have found in  my copy, and I can find not a one. Can't imagine what happened. Maybe the great Editor In The Sky corrected them.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@drjeff0001"write an entire column in street slang"

I really love a language prig who corrects a column writer for an imagined fault. I've reread the "entire" column and can find only one example of what you mistakenly call "street slang" ("Lose the 'tude"), and that, the last sentence. Could it be that you do not know the meaning of "entire?" And are you really a "dr"?



holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

I also miss the hayrides.

JustAsking
JustAsking

@TXEducator I don't believe any Texas educator would use supercilious, pugnacious and poppycock in the same paragraph.   While I have to love it, it sounds more Paris France than Paris Texas.  In my next life, I want to be a huge punk rock star in a punk band called Pithy Pugnacious & The Poppycocks.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

I think I was actually refaming him.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@Dippity_do"sick joke perpetrated by the Marxist and/or money-grubbing school administrations, teachers unions and the so-called Department Of Education."

Or perhaps, Dippity, by the large for-profit capitalist enterprises that devise, lob by for, and aggressive market the tests. Ya think?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@everlastingphelps  ... so why aren't THE PARENTS taking personal responsibility and further educating their children at home ??


Typical "liberal", always wants the government to take care of them, and their children.


TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@JimSX

I do have one observation along this silly line of critique. Regarding the following sentence in the letter:

...predetermined standard set by bureaucrats in Austin and a testing company headquartered in London, England.

It's a statement of fact. Actually, an interesting fact - that we had to import a test.

Regardless, you describe his reference to London as "sneering"', which is awfully subjective in an article infused with "sneering and "snarling" to boot. But, that's my subjective opinion.

BTW, where did you stand on NCLB when Bush proposed it?

(Ps: I proofread the hell out of this comment.)

Mosrite6
Mosrite6

@bmarvel @drjeff0001 

Thanks to you, top commenter, for taking the time to correct the doctor with your own poor grammar and punctuation. In the words of Fred Schneider:

Do the Hip-O-Crit

scoobytuff
scoobytuff

Pissant, bullshit.... Did you gloss over those two eloquent phrases when you didn't see any street slang, or are you just a keyboard warrior? Top Commenter status would lead me to believe you probably spend a lot of time lashing out at people that disagree with you.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

and yeah, small town kids are special.

It's why, Mr. Schutze, you call us rubes, Toms, Rebs and Racists, no matter the stripe or color.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  

And a R(h)ome, Athens, Palestine, Edinburgh, London, Dublin, Florence, Geneva, Manchester, Moscow, Naples, Newcastle. Weimar. Fredericksburg, Medina, Marathon, Kent, Praha, Moravia, Memphis (the one in Egypt, not Tennessee), Berlin, Frelsburg, Hochheim, Milano, New Baden, New Berlin, New Bielau, New Ulm, New Wehdem, Oldenburg, Weimar, Babylon, Cambridge, Corinth, Dorchester, Dresden, and Westphalia.  And these are mostly in Central Texas.


I have left out the countries of Ireland and Italy as well as the planet Venus.


I am truly sorry Ms Myrna, but you really are a provincial rube from Brooklyn.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

Yes, and it's sooooo embarrassing when Americans visit and can't speak the language.

Dippity_do
Dippity_do

@bmarvel @Dippity_do

Point taken. They have to get what they pay for (not that they should in many instances). And the kids and parents are between a rock and a hard place...

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Typical conservative, always yawping for a handout from your parents.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay

Errr... Your argument concerning parental responsibility and effect were disproved by a single study, and written about right here by Jim Schutze. According to Jim, your argument is one employed by "Limbaugh Racists".

Whoops.

What
What

@TheRuddSki You need to proofread it again.  It is still a bowl of tripe soup. 

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@scoobytuff Scooby -- "Pissant" dates back to the 14th century, from the French "pismire," meaning, simply, "ant."

"Bullshit" has been around since early in the last century, but it comes from the 14th Century "boul,"meaning fraud, and "shit," from the Old English "scite," and...well, you know what that means

Neither qualifies as "street slang."

But I'm guessing that's not really why my comment irritated you, is it? 


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@JimSX  ... fuck those freeloading kids, let them fend for themselves!

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@What

I hit your like button, because I find OCD funny.

What
What

@TheRuddSki OMG!  You got ONE Like.  Gonna be cheerleader soon.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay

Yeah it was a sarcasm fail alright, since parental responsibility and involvement actually is a big chunk of a kid's success in school. I guess your sarcasm was meant to agree with Jim, in that it isn't an issue according to a single study we've not seen since, and disputes every study ever done on the issue.

Kudos, amigo.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@What

Su jefe lo llama a menudo.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

RTGolden1

In all fairness, he could have been referring to states he visited multiple times, and/or he was tired. I'll pick on him for lying, fraud and contra-constitutional action, but I've always found this a cheap shot, but funny.

Gore never said he invented the internet, of anything close, either, but it's funny.

Few can top "is our children learning"

When Bush gave a speech, especially SotU, Bush supporters would he on the edge of their seats, praying he could get through it with no big flubs.

If you want to really hit Obama, watch his speech in New Orleans, using an accent that would disgust Harry "KOCH" Reid while lying his ass off. Funny, but not funny.

What
What

@TheRuddSki Speaking of, did you get that new colostomy bag last night after bingo sweets?

What
What

@TheRuddSki Oh, it didn't happen on his watch?  Did he mumble that to you?  So weak. 

What
What

@TheRuddSki Was that before or after you changed Brad Pitt's tire? 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  My doggy-style days are long gone.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  


George aWol Bush = Worst President Ever ... Dumbest President Ever ... most Inarticulate President Ever ... and a Murderous War Criminal Scumbag.


TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay

Ok, dude, never forget, got it, blah blah blah.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  


Never Forget -- the Worst Terrorist Attack on U$ soil happened on G aWol Bush's watch.


G aWol Bush = the only president to start -- and lose -- 2 (two) wars ... against far smaller, weaker and poorer sovereign nations.


G aWol Bu$h = the Torture President

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

Your potty mouth ruined the whole thread :)

Sound familiar?

Have a nice day, living in the past.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay

I would never challenge your beliefs.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

The President was there.

Had a bush gone, your complaint would have been that he went, and that it happened on his watch. Disgraceful!

And BTW, had Bush instituted post 9/11 security procedures pre-9/11 based on "Islamists plan to hijack plane", folks would have screamed "Police State!"

Point two. Billy had opportunity to get bin laden, passed.

Do you ever get tired of going in circles?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  Bush is a disgrace for not going to the 9/11 Memorial Dedication.  It happened on his watch.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay

LOL, yeah Bush & his dad had that verbal flub thing goin'. And the person who lampooned it the best? George Bush. Incidentally I was about 30 ft from George last week, he looks good.

And, to be fair to the haughty one, when you're reading and reliant on a TelePrompTer and see the word "corpsman", you'll probably say that the TelePrompTer seemingly tells you to say.

That's how he pulled the boner about "keeping....inscurance....doctor", the TelePrompTer lied, not him.

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